King of the North versus South and Today’s End-Time Events
The book of Daniel contains both true historical events and prophecies pertinent to today. The historical portions include some of the most inspiring stories in Scripture: captives who remain loyal to God being ten times wiser than those who are not loyal to Him; enemies seeking to trap and destroy God’s faithful, but His people are delivered from a fiery furnace and a lion’s den – great stories. But in this blog, we are going to focus on the book’s prophecies and, specifically, the prophecy of the kings of the North and the South as recorded in chapter 11.
The contents of Daniel form a prophetic pattern. The various prophecies start at the time, or near the time, when Daniel was living, and they proceed forward from that point until the second coming of Christ, with each subsequent prophecy giving greater detail about the future.
- Daniel 2: the multi-metal man prophecy starts with Babylon and goes through Medo-Persia, Greece, Rome, fractured Europe, and the coming of Christ.
- Daniel 7: the four beasts prophecy starts with Babylon and goes through Medo-Persia, Greece, Rome, fractured Europe, then papal Rome and the coming of Christ.
- Daniel 8 & 9: the ram and the goat prophecy starts with Medo-Persia being overthrown by Greece, followed by the initial rise of pagan Rome and its eventual transformation into its papal form. But this prophecy gives more detail, specifying how long until the Messiah would come and revealing Satan’s counterattack to infect the minds of people with a false understanding of God’s law and what Christ achieved, which is then followed by the end-time people of God being cleansed from sin and being made ready to meet Jesus and, finally, culminating in the second coming of Christ.
Then Daniel 11, our focus for this blog, is the last in this series of prophecies and begins again with events occurring in Persia at the time of Daniel.
- Daniel 11:1–4: The vision is given during the third year of Cyrus’s reign and references three more kings to arise, followed by a fourth king more powerful than the rest, but who would have his empire broken up and parceled out to the four winds – i.e., four points of the compass. The three kings to follow Cyrus were Cambyses (530–522 B.C.); the False Smerdis (522 B.C.); and Darius I (522–486 B.C.). The fourth was Xerxes (486–465 B.C.), who stirred up the Greeks (vv. 2) and eventually, the empire was conquered by Alexander the Great (336–323 B.C.), who died at the height of his power and whose kingdom was broken into four regions (vv. 3, 4).
- Daniel 11:5–14: Depicts the battles between the Hellenistic dynasties after the death of Alexander. There are various Bible commentaries that can give the specific historical events corresponding to these verses. The king of the North represents the portion of Persia corresponding to ancient Babylon, the Syrian portion, while the king of the South represents Egypt.
- Daniel 11:16–28: In verse 16, we have the appearance of Rome, the kingdom that establishes itself in the “Beautiful Land,” which refers to the place where God dwells with His people. In verse 22, this power kills the prince of the covenant, which is a reference to the crucifixion of Jesus, thus confirming this section refers to pagan Rome.
- Daniel 11:29–39: These verses transition us from literal Israel to spiritual Israel, those who are like Abraham in character and faith, and from pagan Rome as the king of the North to Christian Rome as the king of the North.
The theme that emerges is that the two kings (North and South) represent two philosophies that carry down through time.
The North (Babylon/Persia/Rome) represents powers that claim to believe in God but that use the methods of this sinful world, specifically the imposition of law and the coercive force of the state. Nebuchadnezzar claimed to believe in Daniel’s God yet used imposed law to enforce it (Daniel 3:28, 29); Darius claimed to believe in Daniel’s God yet used imposed law to enforce it (Daniel 6:23–27); and eventually pagan Rome became papal Rome, which claims to represent God but infects all Christianity with the imposed-law lie that leads to legal religiosity in Christianity, thus mispresenting God (Daniel 7:20–25). So the king of the North is the system that merges a belief in God (church) with human imposed-law methods (state) forming religious imperialism.
The South (Egypt) signifies powers that deny God, as Pharaoh famously said, “who is God that I should obey him?” (Exodus 5:2). The king of the South began its final (end-time) assault on the king of the North with the French Revolution, which denied all gods and enthroned the goddess of reason, laying the foundation for the rise of atheism, humanism, and secularism in the Western world, which has been advancing against the king of the North ever since.
One of the founders of the Adventist church wrote in the book, The Great Controversy, the following:
“The great city” in whose streets the witnesses are slain, and where their dead bodies lie, is “spiritually” Egypt. Of all nations presented in Bible history, Egypt most boldly denied the existence of the living God and resisted His commands. No monarch ever ventured upon more open and highhanded rebellion against the authority of Heaven than did the king of Egypt. When the message was brought him by Moses, in the name of the Lord, Pharaoh proudly answered: “Who is Jehovah, that I should hearken unto His voice to let Israel go? I know not Jehovah, and moreover I will not let Israel go.” Exodus 5:2, A.R.V. This is atheism, and the nation represented by Egypt would give voice to a similar denial of the claims of the living God and would manifest a like spirit of unbelief and defiance. “The great city” is also compared, “spiritually,” to Sodom. The corruption of Sodom in breaking the law of God was especially manifested in licentiousness. And this sin was also to be a pre-eminent characteristic of the nation that should fulfill the specifications of this scripture (p. 269).
The writer then goes on to identify the French Revolution as fulfilling this description. France was the power that entered Rome and took the pope captive in 1798, ending the 1260-year reign of the church-state union and ushering in the rise of atheism, humanism, and secularism. The king of the South, which represents atheism, secular humanism, godless liberalism, and progressivism, began its final assault against the king of the North (church-state imperialism) with the French Revolution. Today, the king of the South is continuing its strong push against the king of the North – but things are about to change. Let’s examine the final verses of chapter 11.
- Daniel 11:40–45: These verses describe the events pertinent to our world today. There are a variety of interpretations and applications from various Bible scholars, which I reviewed in a previous Bible study.
Here, we will examine what I think is most likely depicted in these verses, yet I remain open to updating my views as history unfolds. I am not being dogmatic, but I’m putting these ideas out for study and consideration by others. So please, if you have insights to improve this explanation, please share them.
Verse 40: “At the time of the end the king of the South will engage him in battle, and the king of the North will storm out against him with chariots and cavalry and a great fleet of ships. He will invade many countries and sweep through them like a flood” (NIV84).
The time of the end refers to the period before the second coming of Christ. The king of the South (atheism, secular humanism, godless liberalism, progressivism) will attack the king of the North (Christianity and its various agencies that seek to promote their religion via coercive governments – such as prohibition of alcohol in the early 20th century, laws restricting marriage to one man and one woman, laws against abortion, laws limiting homosexuals in the military, etc.).
Over the past two centuries, we have seen the king of the South (secular humanism) pushing hard against the king of the North (religious imperialism) and making major gains. Yet the prophecy doesn’t end there. It says that the king of the North will storm out against the king of the South. And if our understanding of this prophecy is correct, that means we are on the cusp of seeing a resurgence of religious conservatism gaining political power, which will aggressively overthrow and destroy the king of the South (secular humanism). A majority of people in America are going to get pushed too far by the extremism of the godless to the point that they aggressively react and storm out against it, ultimately taking control of the government to pass and enforce their religious laws.
Nationalism is conservatism (self-protective, in-group survival, strong boundaries, isolating, withdrawing), which is king of the North activity. As events occur that increase the sense of chaos, threat, insecurity (pestilence, food shortages, financial pressures, war, climate change, violence, riots, etc.), fear will drive people back toward conservative stances (king of the North). When times are good, such as periods of relative peace and prosperity, cultures tend to move toward progressive agendas. Thus, as the king of the South gains power and moves its agenda forward, society becomes more decadent, overextending until its economy falters – then, when this is combined with the biblical events of the last-day “time of trouble” (increasing violence and natural disasters, pestilence, wars, terrorism), it will build support for a conservative agenda that empowers the forces of the king of the North to storm back.
Verse 41: “He will also invade the Beautiful Land. Many countries will fall, but Edom, Moab and the leaders of Ammon will be delivered from his hand” (NIV84).
The Beautiful Land refers to the place where God dwells with His people. The philosophy of the king of the North seeks to invade the hearts and minds of God’s commandment-keeping people because they value conservative principles and a belief in God. If they are not careful, many of God’s people will be caught up in the religious power-play that seeks to oppose the king of the South. People from around the world will fall for this approach and join in the Christian church-state resurgence.
Throughout Daniel 11, the kings of the North and the South fight one another, with the Beautiful Land (God’s people) caught in the middle. God’s people are not to be identified with either the king of the North (religious imperialism) or the king of the South (secular humanism) but are to be separate and distinct. It is one of Satan’s traps to seduce people into one of these two philosophical and political camps.
Edom (descendants of Esau), Moab, and Ammon (descendants of Lot) were nomadic and represent people who did not join with fixed human nations or governments. Thus, those who retain their independence, liberty, and freedom, and therefore think for themselves, do not go along with the merging of church and state and will not come under the power of the king of the North.
Verses 42, 43: “He will extend his power over many countries; Egypt will not escape. He will gain control of the treasures of gold and silver and all the riches of Egypt, with the Libyans and Nubians in submission” (NIV84).
Egypt is synonymous with the king of the South and, thus, with atheism, secular humanism, godless liberalism, and progressivism and will not escape the counterattack of the king of the North (religious imperialism; church-state union). The king of the North will take control of the assets previously controlled by the king of the South – media, commerce, and property. In the Bible, Libya and Nubia (or Ethiopia) represent Africa (excluding Egypt), which represents that various racial groups will submit to the authority of the king of the North. It may also mean that much of the support for this worldwide resurgence in religious imperialism will come from people of color. In fact, the nations today with the highest percentage of people that remain religiously conservative and are supportive of church imperialism are found in Africa and Latin America.
Verse 44: “But reports from the east and the north will alarm him, and he will set out in a great rage to destroy and annihilate many.”
In Scripture, the east and the north are often associated with God:
- “Now the LORD God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden” where God created humankind (Genesis 2:8 NIV84).
- God’s glory is described as coming from the east: “I saw the glory of the God of Israel coming from the east” (Ezekiel 43:2 NIV84). God’s glory is another way of saying God’s character of love. Thus, the character of God, His true methods and principles, being proclaimed and revealed will alarm the king of the North.
- Jesus describes His second coming as coming from the east: “For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man” (NIV84).
- Revelation describes God’s angels as having the seal of God and coming from the east to seal the people of God: “Then I saw another angel coming up from the east, having the seal of the living God. He called out in a loud voice to the four angels who had been given power to harm the land and the sea: ‘Do not harm the land or the sea or the trees until we put a seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God’” (7:2, 3 NIV84). The king of the North is alarmed at the messengers from God who bring the truth that seals God’s saints.
- Moses was instructed to place the table that contained the showbread and wine on the north side of the sanctuary: “Place the table outside the curtain on the north side of the tabernacle and put the lampstand opposite it on the south side” (Exodus 26:35 NIV84). The showbread and wine represent the body and blood of Jesus, our Savior.
- Job tells us that God comes out of the north: “Out of the north he comes in golden splendor; God comes in awesome majesty” (37:22 NIV84).
- Isaiah describes that Lucifer wanted to ascend to God’s throne, which is in the north: “How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, you who weakened the nations! For you have said in your heart: ‘I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation on the farthest sides of the north’” (Isaiah 14:12, 13 NKJV).
As the king of the North (religious conservatism united with state powers, forming religious imperialism) assails the forces of the king of the South (secular humanism), the people of God are caught in the middle of these two forces. A message from God goes to the world revealing that He is not in either of these movements – that His law is not like human law. It is a message that illuminates the truth about God as Creator, showing that His laws are design laws – the protocols upon which life is built to operate. It is a message that gives glory to God because it reveals His true character of love. It is a message that exposes both the lies of godlessness and the lies of false Christianity. It exposes as false the Christianity that teaches that God’s law functions like human law and, thus, worships a god who is the source of inflicted pain and suffering as punishment for sin.
The true people of God cannot align with either of these human movements and are called by God to come out of them – to be separate (Revelation 18:4). This message of God’s true character and His design law alarms the king of the North (religious imperialism) and threatens his power, so he seeks to use all the means at his disposal to silence and destroy the voices of heavenly truth.
Verse 45: “He will pitch his royal tents between the seas at the beautiful holy mountain. Yet he will come to his end, and no one will help him” (NIV84).
The tent here represents the king of the North’s system of beliefs, ideas, concepts, protocols, and authority. The seas represent the sea of humanity, the peoples of the world. The beautiful holy mountain represents the place where God dwells – the source of godly truth, the gospel. The king of the North puts his power, claims, lies, distortions, demands, threats, imposed laws, false theologies between God and the people of the earth. Yet he will ultimately fail and be destroyed by the second coming of Christ.
Both the king of the North (religious imperialism) and king of the South (secular humanism) represent Satan’s agencies, with God’s people caught in the middle. Satan uses these two sides against each other as a trap to seduce or trick God’s people into choosing one of the two sides, when both sides are actually his.
Examples of how these two sides are used to trick the people of God:
- A conflict over whether we should have prayer in public schools – Christianity promoting prayer in schools (king of the North) versus secular humanism opposing prayer in schools (king of the South).
- Could this lead to good Christian people being tricked into choosing to side with the king of the North – religious imperialism – that would seek to force its religious views on others through the power of the state and deny freedom to those who would not want to pray?
- Could this lead other good Christian people who recognize the principles of liberty as being godly being tricked into siding with the king of the South – secular humanism – and promoting a system that denies God and indoctrinating generations of children into a false belief system, making it harder for them to come to know God?
- A conflict over abortion (not about whether abortion is right or wrong, any more than prayer is right or wrong, but about whether the issue could be used by Satan to trick Christians into using his methods to achieve their goals) –
- Could good Christian people, who value life and want to protect it, get tricked into siding with the king of the North – religious imperialism – and seek to pass laws to force people to practice their moral views regardless of circumstance? Could ideas be put forth that say “we believe that every child is a gift from God” and could such rhetoric confuse people – children, adolescents, or young women – who were raped or sexually abused and became pregnant to wonder if it is true; was the rape actually God giving them a gift? Could good Christian people get tricked by the king of the North to promote lies about God?
- Could it lead other good-hearted people who may not be Christian, but who do care about others, to recognize the principles of liberty and to side with the king of the South – secular humanism – and teach “it is just your body; make any choice you want” and, in so doing, lead some women to make choices that they later regret?
Are we as Christians able to recognize that participating with either the king of the North or the king of the South is a trap of Satan, in which he gets people to think they are fighting for what is right while, in reality, they are joining with him?
I encourage you to reject both the king of the North (religious imperialism) and the king of the South (secular humanism) and embrace the truth about our Creator God of love. Come out of the confusing systems of this world and be in awe of God – and glorify Him by living out His law of love in your life.